We're continuing in the Book of Acts.
Today’s scripture is Acts 2:14-41.
This is Peter's most famous sermon. He gave this sermon immediately after Pentecost so he would have been in a room surrounded with fellow believers, with other Jews who were seeking to understand who God was, Who God is in the world and how Jesus had changed that world.
Peter is preaching to people who are close to him in faith and in tradition and in belief systems. It's important to keep that in mind when you read this text.
Peter's sermon has been used throughout the years as an excuse to by Christians to persecute Jewish people and it's been a way we've validated, the people in our faith tradition, cruelty to them because it was their fault Jesus died. Or so the justification goes.
It's important to know Peter is not preaching against a different group. Peter is talking to people within his own faith tradition, people who share the same belief structure as him. He's saying look this evidence is clear, this is Jesus. Based on our own scripture Jesus is clearly the messiah. I see the evidence here, here, here, and here.
Now it's often true that we are most cruel to the people who are closest to us, the people who believe closest to us. We have an ability to be tolerant of people of different faith traditions that are completely different from us. We don't get as riled up about people who are far away in their beliefs from where we are, religiously, but we get really angry and upset with people who are close to us who we feel like should see the things the same way we see things. I mean, we think, “the evidence is clear to us, this is obvious how you should read this passage.” “This is obvious how you should understand this and so we get crazy. We get angry. we get so hateful towards one another.
It happens between different churches in the same denomination. It happens between denominations. It happens within churches between different groups. The closer people are to us in tradition and in faith and in belief structure, the angrier we tend to get with them when they don't agree with us.
Peter here is trying to bear that truth. “If it's obvious to us and you believe the same thing that I believe because we're in the same church then it should be obvious to you too”, he thinks. I don't know Peter’s argument is always necessarily true because we come to the bible and we come to our beliefs, we come to our structure with different experiences, with different attitudes, with different ways of perceiving the world.
It's not the same but it's similar to our different preferences for music or different preferences for tv shows different preferences for sports teams. It's part of who we are and how we interpret the Bible and so instead of getting angry maybe we need to adopt an attitude of listening and respect and hearing how this other person, we shut them out and lose our opportunity to grow.